By Mary Grady, News Writer, Editor
The FAA's recent action to suspend operations at AMI Jet Charter was "driven more by arrogance and a failure to understand how Part 135 is different from Part 121" than by any concerns about safety, according to James Coyne, president of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). Coyne, in a letter to NATA members dated October 15, said he was "extremely angered" by the FAA's "shocking" action. AMI operates about 10 percent of the top-of-the-line Gulfstream, Falcon and other large corporate jets in the U.S. charter market, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Tag Aviation owns 49 percent of the company, and it is the issue of ownership, or "operational control" -- and who is responsible for the safe operation of the airplanes -- that is the basis for the FAA's action. AMI filed an appeal last week with the NTSB, arguing that no "emergency" situation exists to justify the FAA's action, and provided a declaration countering many of the FAA's claims against the carrier. AMI's appeal and their response to the FAA's charges are posted at the NATA Web site. AMI CEO Chuck McLeran said he hopes to work with the FAA to resolve the issues. "We are confident that we can demonstrate AMIJC's outstanding safety record to the FAA and our continued commitment to full compliance with all applicable regulations and procedures," he said in a statement.
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen said the FAA action should be viewed as a wake-up call to all charter providers. "This significant action was taken against a company that is among the most highly regarded charter providers in the country," Bolen said. "NBAA urges the charter members within our association to take note of the FAA's recent action and ensure that their operational control practices are in order."